County Smoking Bans in Bars, Restaurants Cut Asthma-Related Hospitalizations
By Lori Solomon, Georgia Health Policy Center, and Jeremy Craig, Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Bans on smoking in public places at the county level are making an impact in preventing people with asthma from having to spend time in the hospital and smoking bans in restaurants or bars may have even more of a beneficial effect than smoke-free laws found in non-hospitality workplaces, Georgia State University researchers have found.
Researchers with the university’s Georgia Health Policy Center in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies took a different approach than previous research looking at smoking bans. Instead of looking at state laws, researchers evaluated data at the county level in multiple states.
They used a combination of data from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) about hospitalizations from 2002 to 2002, in combination with the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation’s smoke-free laws database of state and county laws.
While the majority of non-hospitality workplaces (office buildings, for example) are covered by either public or private smoking bans, only about half of the U.S. population lives in places where 100 percent smoke-free laws are in force in all workplaces, including bars and restaurants.
In total, data from 17 states was included in the analysis: 12 with state smoke-free laws and five without state smoke-free laws. These 17 states represent 840 counties with about 103 million people, or 35 percent of the U.S. population. Twenty-nine counties included in the study passed a county-level clean indoor law during the study period, 16 counties already had a county-level non-hospitality workplace law in place and 20 counties already had a county-level restaurant or bar law in place.
The researchers found asthma-related hospital discharges were not reduced by enacting smoke-free workplace laws within county jurisdictions. However, enacting smoke-free restaurant and bar laws was tied to reductions in asthma discharges.
“Only 49 percent of the U.S. population lives in a location where smoke-free laws are in force in all bars, restaurants and workplaces,” said lead author Glenn Landers, director of health systems at the Georgia Health Policy Center. “Clearly, there are still opportunities to reduce secondhand smoke exposure and health outcomes through changes in county smoking laws.”
The study was published in the Canadian Respiratory Journal. You can download the study at http://ghpc.gsu.edu/download/county-smoke-free-laws-asthma-discharges-evidence-17-us-states/.
Study coauthors include Pat Ketche from the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University, as well as Mark Diana and Claudia Campbell, both from Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.
Lori Solomon is the communications and marketing manager for the Georgia Health Policy Center at Georgia State University. Jeremy Craig is a public relations coordinator in the Georgia State University Department of Public Relations and Marketing Communications.